Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Irene Grishin-Selzer

For those of you not in the know (if so, see previous post!) we recently had an exhibition opening featuring three individuals very dear to CVHQ. First up in Gallery 1 we have Irene Grishin-Selzer whom many of you may recognise from her Iggy and Lou Lou jewellery and homewares range. In her current exhibition entitled Love You More Than Life, Irene takes on the skull and teddy bear motif, recreating them in her own special way.

So for all of you can't make it down here, here is the eloquent catalogue essay written by Ramona Barry to accompany Irene's exhibition. Don't forget to check back with us in a bit - we'll have images up and ready for your perusal soon. Can't have too much of a good thing all at once!

The art of Irene Grishin-Selzer

There can be no doubt that the ultimate human emotion is love. The sculptural work of ceramic artist Irene Grishin-Selzer explores not only our overwhelming desire to live in that other worldly state of being ‘in love’ but the ultimate consequence of living such a life – that death must follow and with it comes loss. As love transcends both time and mortality we can find comfort and beauty in our mourning and celebrate our euphoria in the living.

The teddy bear – long a symbol of innocence, affection, attachment – hangs uncharacteristically posed en masse – their gold hearts spilling out onto the walls and floor. Sad but strangely attractive these little bears can either repel or attract the viewer. Perhaps drawn to a single individual (what is its own particular heartache?) or be confronted by the sheer number of bears which can appear as if they are floating. The title ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ (aside from the more obvious pop culture reference) explores the idea of being torn between the temporal, or rational, and the divine. The firing of soft paste porcelain captures a poignant moment – the ‘little deaths’ of those who gave love.

Skulls are long time heroes of the art world and Grishin-Selzer has used the motif repeatedly since her masters in 2001 to reflect on the relationship between life, love and death. In sculptural form these grinning visages are decorated with pretty decals of butterflies and flowers, images of fleeting but beautiful life, or riddled with heart cut outs.

The humour in the macabre is never too far away. Despite the seriousness of the subject Grishin-Selzer plays with the duality of darkness and light as a way of perhaps coping with the weightier aspects of her subject matter. She acknowledges a kind of self-conscious melodrama ever present in her/our musings on things that are beyond our control.

As a way of acknowledging the melodrama and cliché within the world of love and death the work also plays with elements of kitsch. From the pop culture title references, the familiarity of the stuffed bear and skull motif and (the ultimate cliché) the ornament. It honours our desire to mark both occasion and interior with representations of love and life by elevating them into objects of acute beauty. Their highly decorated and polished surfaces seducing us, making us fall in love all over again.

There are many threads that can be drawn together throughout the work – from Russian folklore, modern philosophy, the heartache found in a love song, interpretation of current events, even your own personal story of love and loss. As humans we have certain things in common, a fear of death, a desire to live, and the need to love. A life without love is not worth living.

Indeed without love what would we then mourn or celebrate?

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